Block Play Guidance for Practitioners using Building the Ambition

Experiences which:

  • Encourage the child to wait their turn with their friends, for example, having the patience to wait for a turn whilst sharing the blocks and accessories at the blockplay.
  • Develop physical skills by building with blocks, strengthening muscles by moving in and around objects inside and outside.
  • Provide interesting objects to touch which encourage questions and language.
  • Help the child to see how things work, how objects can be moved and transported around; how similar blocks can be grouped together; how things balance.
  • Give the child time and space to be involved in their own schematic play and adults who support this.
  • Highlight a growing awareness of the need for some rules and why this is important and being able to respond to basic structures e.g. we wear our shoes in the blockplay area.
  • Allow children to use their imagination with role play, making models, constructing and designing.
  • Help children remember how they have solved a problem in the past and how this learning links to a current challenge.
  • Give time for children to find out similarities and differences in simple problem solving activities.

Adults who:

  • Understand the child’s own needs and preferences; for example, when the child is in a bigger group and how they may react, or when there are too many people around or it is too noisy.
  • Encourage children to initiate conversations and who extend these by asking well thought out questions.
  • Explain and model new words with the correct level of challenge to extend the child’s grasp of language.
  • Observe sensitively and intervene when necessary to extend the child’s thinking without over-direction and who do not interrupt moments of intense concentration.
  • Use techniques such as wondering aloud, explaining what is happening but all the time allowing the child to find out for them self what will happen next.
  • Encourage the young child to think, helping them to solve problems and giving the child time to come to a satisfying conclusion from the child’s view and then taking time to discuss this together.
  • Recognise differences in starting points of the individual child and encourage them at the appropriate level.
  • Encourage children to see another’s point of view through joint projects and cooperation in play.
  • Praise the child’s growing physical capabilities and challenge them to take the next step.
  • Pose questions which encourage inquiry such as, I wonder if, why do you think that, to extend the young child’s ability to verbalise their thoughts and actions.
  • Ask children I wonder what happens if… to help children make sense of what happens when you try things out.
  • Provide a range of resources to talk about which encourages children to be creative.
  • Help model techniques and strategies with children and encourage this new learning in the child’s new challenges or suggest a new context.

An environment which is:

  • Aware of providing materials and resources for children to use to find out how they move or what they are used for.
  • Provides resources which are interesting and stimulate questions and encourage children to communicate with each other.
  • Gives space to build, construct and take things apart and time to practise these skills over and over again.
  • Is organised to promote physical development, movement and spacial awareness inside and outside
  • Encourages inquiry and invites discussion and exploration with interesting objects to talk about and explore, stimulating curiosity.
  • Is supportive of giving time for the young child to persevere with their thinking and inquiries, to test their own theories out over several days or re-examine the same experience again over time in a variety of ways. For example, how to build a bridge across an area of the playroom using different materials without being constrained by overly formal routines of the day.


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